Tonga: Tsunami evacuation preparedness drill in Patangata and Popua community, Thursday 28th November 2019
The National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) under the Ministry of MEIDECC, planned and organized a tsunami evacuation drill today with the participation of nearly 300 residents of Popua and Patangata communities. Managing the drill were representatives from the Tsunami Task Force and our first responders including Tonga Red Cross, Tonga Fire Services, Tonga Police Force, MEIDECC Communication Department, and the Village councils from both communities.
The purpose of the exercise was to test tsunami preparedness and improve coordination between communities and responders.
Popua and Patangata are two of Tongatapu’s communities at risk of damage from Tsunami due to their location and topography.
Today’s exercise was preceded by several awareness programs conducted two months ago in both communities.
The drill was conducted between 9.0 am and 10.0 am today to illustrate to the communities how to evacuate quickly and safely after a major earthquake using the worst-case scenario (9.0 magnitude).
An alert warning sounded by loud hailers initiated the exercise indicating tsunami may arrive within 10 to 15 minutes.
Community response was immediate and enthusiastic as men, women and children came running to the assembly point. NEMO representatives recorded the names of those present and first aid staff were on hand to deal with simulated casualties.
This response by all concerned was impressive in spite of the demands of work, school holidays and problems such as measles. It highlights that no matter what is happening in the community at the time of a disaster, timely and appropriate response is paramount.